Cream cheese frosting is a delicious topping for so many desserts and recipes. This homemade recipe is easy and filled with decadent flavor.
This icing is the perfect complement to my Red Velvet Cake or really any cake that calls for cream cheese frosting. Don’t have storebought cream cheese around or just feeling up to the task of a DIY, homemade cream cheese frosting? This is the perfect recipe for you. The light and fluffy texture combined with the rich, decadent flavor will have all your dinner guests asking how you made that delicous frosting.
One thing to note about this cream cheese frosting is the type of cream cheese used in the ingredients. I am not usually favorable towards certain brands when it comes to ingredients (except Duke’s mayo… IYKYK). However, when it comes to this homemade cream cheese frosting, I highly recommend Philadelphia Cream Cheese for this DIY frosting recipe because it creates a smoother mixture.
What is the difference between cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing?
While the terms cream cheese frosting and cream cheese icing are pretty much used interchangeably today (I do it all the time), there are some actual differences. It’s not super important, but for the sake of being correct, let’s look at them… They are similar when it comes to ingredients (they both feature cream cheese, butter, and sugar), but here are a few ways they’re different…
- Consistency – Cream cheese frosting is usually thicker and fluffier, while cream cheese icing is thinner and more pourable.
- Uses – Cream cheese icing is often used as a glaze or drizzled over pastries. Meanwhile, cream cheese frosting is usually piped onto cakes or cupcakes, but it can also be spread on top of these desserts.
- Creation – Cream cheese frosting is made by creaming together softened butter and cream cheese, then gradually adding powdered sugar and flavorings. Cream cheese icing is usually made by adding milk or cream to a mixture that is essentially frosting to make it thinner.
How to store a cake with cream cheese frosting:
Cream cheese frosting and cakes covered in it will need to be refrigerated within two hours – according to the FDA. They also say that cakes made with cream cheese (like cream cheese pound cake) should follow the same rule.
I’ve never refrigerated a cream cheese pound cake in my life. And I’ve never seen my mother or grandmother do it either. But that’s not advice. 😂
I typically store cakes frosted with cream cheese frosting, like red velvet, on the counter for up to 3 days. But again, that’s not advice.
- You may store the frosting by itself in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- You may freeze the frosting by itself for up to 3 months.
- Once on a cake, you can store the cake, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to a week or up to 3 months in the freezer.
How do I soften cream cheese?
It is important to soften your cream cheese before making the frosting so everything blends together easily. There are several ways you can soften cream cheese quickly. You can choose any of the following methods:
- Submerge in a large mixing bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes.
- Microwave the cream cheese in 15-second intervals.
- Leave out your cream cheese on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. This is my preferred method.
- Place in your hands while still in the packaging for about 15 minutes. Press the packaging back and forth in your palms until you can feel it is creamy and approximately room temperature.
What to use cream cheese frosting with:
Now that you have a delicious homemade cream frosting, here are a few ideas on how to use it:
- As the frosting and filling for a layered cake, such as my Aunt Frankie’s Carrot Cake or Perfect Red Velvet Cake.
- As the topping for a sheet cake, such as my Hummingbird Sheet Cake.
- As a glaze: Cream cheese frosting can be thinned with milk or cream to make a glaze. This can be used to drizzle over cakes, cupcakes, or other desserts. I think it would be delicious drizzled over my Best Chewy Sugar Cookies.
- As a dip: Cream cheese frosting can be used as a dip for cookies, fruit, or other snacks. Add a dollop of this frosting with my Secret Ingredient Fruit Salad! Yum!
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavoring
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (optional or used for decoration)
- Use a mixer to combine the room temperature butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy – about 5 minutes.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.
- Once combined, mix in pecans (if using) or use them to sprinkle on top or sides of the cake for decoration.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.